Secondary students need to brush up on math and Spanish, tests found. Secondary students need to brush up on math and Spanish, tests found.

Math, language tests produce poor results

Only 5% of students in final year of secondary school were sufficiently proficient in math

Testing of secondary students has produced some dismal results in mathematics and Spanish.


Only 5.1% of students in their final year of secondary school had achieved a satisfactory command of math and 8.3% had done so in Spanish.

The head of the evaluation unit of the National Education System explained that the 2017 Planea test was taken by 131,662 students in 3,398 public and private schools throughout the country.

Jorge Hernández Uralde said the results reflect fundamental learning handicaps. He also noted that there was low student participation in the states of Chiapas, Michoacán and Oaxaca.

Hernández described the math results as alarming. He explained that 64.5% of the students tested had trouble solving basic operations such as adding, subtracting, multiplying and dividing and using decimals.

Private-school students achieved better results than their public-school counterparts: 16% of the former had achieved a sufficient mastery of mathematics compared to only 4.1% for the latter.


The results were worse for distance education students and those in indigenous communities.

Only 3.6% of students in the telesecundaria schools had sufficiently mastered math, while just 0.4% of indigenous students had done so.

In language and communication, just over one-quarter of students at private institutions had obtained a satisfactory level, but only 7.3% of their peers from public schools had done so. The figures were 3.6% for telesecundaria students and 1.1% for those in indigenous communities.

Hernández said the results show that poverty and marginalization, child labor and substandard schools are having a negative impact on education. “We are not meeting the goals, and the low achievement levels are similar to those obtained in 2015,” he said.

The only states that showed any advances were Puebla, Coahuila and Sonora. Meanwhile, political conflicts in Oaxaca, Michoacán and Guerrero had a negative affect on education.

Source: Milenio (sp)

Stories from our archives that you might enjoy

  • BB

    Disturbing. This will breed more corruption in the future. The more educated ones will really take advantage of those who lagged behind in secondary schools.

  • the functional illiterati

  • I was walking with a nephew the other day. He is almost 15. I asked him what 15 times 2 is. No clue. He’s attended a private Catholic school since day one. He’s well-versed in Catholicism, however.

  • Commander Barkfeather

    One need look no further than the 2016 US Presidential election to see that we’re not cultivating a bunch of brainiacs out there. I suspect this is a world-wide phenomenon.

  • WestCoastHwy

    Great, the future of Mexico! If you think it’s bad now…….imagine these not so bright kids in-charge of a Mexican Cartel. They will hang their rival cartel gang members off the bridge by the foot instead of the neck. There goes the Cartels!

  • Because of the constant feud between the government and the teachers’ union students suffer. Some people in the government benefit from low scores by students as it gives them ammunition to use against the teachers’ union. This coupled with the higher scores from private schools will be used by capitalist profiteers as an excuse for privatization. Unless a neutral party could confirm the validity of the test as being based upon what the students are actually taught in school and could confirm that the tests were conduct with impartiality, the results are meaningless. It is very probable that the exams were skewed to show the desired results.

    The high stakes testing experience in the US (NCLB) showed a strong correlation between higher income and higher test results. This does not imply that the wealthy are in any way smarter, rather that their schools are given privileges and have smaller class sizes. Additionally, children of the wealthy have access to books at home and don’t have the same stresses about basic necessities that the children of the poor do.

    If anybody is actually interested in actually helping young people learn rather than score political points, they would see that class sizes did not exceed 24 student. Additionally, and perhaps even more importantly, they would see that every school had a strong music program. Brain research is showing that learning and playing music is the equivalent of taking your brain to the gym (see TED Talk … How playing an instrument benefits your brain – Anita Collins). There has been studies that link higher test scores with students who are studying music (The Benefits of Music Education by the Royal Conservatory).

    It is also true that food and housing insecurity play a serious part in test results. Yes, learning math helps the brain, but it is less immediate than concern for where and when a student’s next meal will come. For this one need look no further than Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Food and housing security are at the base of this pyramid, whereas math study that may help them self-actualize is at the top.

    By looking at math scores in isolation of school conditions, the presence or absence of a music program, and the poverty or wealth of those taking the exams, the study is looking at the wrong questions. These results are simply a weapon used by partisans to attack the public schools and their teachers.

    • Playapapa

      It wasn’t until last year that I learned one reason for the dispute between teachers and the government. The government introduced mandatory testing of the teachers. The union is opposed to this; it seems that the license to teach is inherited, not earned. The union cannot afford failing grades for its members.

      • The government wants them to fail because of their on going dispute. It is intelligent for the teachers to oppose being judged by a group that wants them to fail. It is impossible for the government to be fair and thus any test would be invalid. Maybe the social studies teachers should test the government on their fitness for office and effectiveness. If one group in a dispute can judge one side, then turn around is fair play.

        Should their be reforms in hiring practices? Of course. No job should be inherited and not earned. And if that’s happening, it needs to stop.

        Every day there’s news about corrupt government officials. Perhaps the government’s obsession with exposing corruption in schools is to redirect the public attention away from their own misdeeds.

        • Playapapa

          I agree with your concerns. The information I received from the people I met from KKIS (Keeping Kids In School) was the government really wants to make sure that education is improved. The only way the public would ever know if the tests are fair is by appointing an independent evaluator. Preferably; a-political, to avoid ‘taking sides’.

          Maybe it is time for us to stop being so pessimistic and hope the government is doing the right thing. Lets keep our fingers crossed.

          • Sadly my remarks are less pessimistic and more realistic. Democratic governments are not held accountable by hope or crossed fingers, rather they are kept in line when the people know what’s happening and hold elected official accountable via citizen activism. Of course Mexico is also the only place in the world where the assassinations of journalists is on the rise. Reputable news sources report that organized crime gangs and corrupt officials offended by reporters’ coverage are believed to be behind the killings (NPR). If this is shown to be true, then corrupt government officials are killing the very people whose job it is to expose the corruption of government officials. And that same government is also attacking schools and the teachers’ union as being corrupt.

            The status quo of Mexico is benefited by low wages held in place by low skills due to poor education. They need to kill the journalist who would expose their misdeeds and keep the population dumb enough to believe their lies and vote for them.